I bottled my lasted beer tonight. The recipe came from the Brewer's Bible and was called Deep Winter Stout. The brewing itself was done on New Year's Eve. I thought this was a great way to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another...way better than consuming too much beer/wine. Read on for my Recounting the tale of the best two dollars ever spent and my love/hate with Centennial Hops.
I re-racked (moved from one Carboy to another to cut down on the amount of sediment) about 10 days ago and noticed the color was spot on Stout: Smooth and dark. I had really high hopes this beer would turn out good. So I popped the top off the caroby and siphoned the smoky liquid into the bottling bucket.*
I noted the foam that was forming was caramel in color and the aroma had a hint of raspberry and...pine? Juniper? Maybe it was Lemon scented pine...I'm not sure. I poured a generous sample into a clear glass cup. I noted the dark tan color was about what I expected and that the clarity wasn't quite where I wanted it but that is because of our hard water is to blame. Dark and smoky beers come out better and are more forgiving. If I wanted to do a lighter beer I would have to use filtered water as the hard contents show up as cloudy sediment.
I took a nice big nose full of Winter Stout and definitely got hit with Raspberry and evergreen. I'm pretty sure the evergreen can be attributed to the Centennial hops. ** I handed the glass to Robyn and asked her what she got. She noted the Raspberry too and we were both stunned and confused as to where it came from. It wasn't bad, just unexpected.
I bottled up the Brew and ended up half bottle shy of two cases. I decided to treat myself and enjoyed the half bottle while Relaxing on the couch with Oscar while Robyn fed Anya in the Bedroom.
I'll probably do one more stout before the winter is over, but will try to mix it up a bit and make the recipe my own. I really liked the flavor of this one, and I hope the bottle conditioning really softens the Evergreen and allows the raspberry tones to come into their own. I kind of doubt it, but we'll find out...eventually :)
The hardest part of home brewing? Waiting until the beer is bottle conditioned!
*Side note: That bucket was the best 2 dollars I ever spent! It's just a food grade plastic bucket with a nozzle...but it has a nozzle! I can't tell you how much beer I lost to my kitchen floor when attempting to siphon the beer into bottles using thin tubing and no clamp. I had thought about just taking some of the scrap wood I have and just buying a clamp to cut off the flow, but when I was shopping for some supplies four brews back, I came across the clearence section on of the sites I use (which is now gone...sad) and saw the 6 gallon bucket was marked down from $11 to $2 and FREE SHIPPING! I couldn't pass it up.
**Centennial has a very high Alpha Acid and leaves a very citrus/floral aroma. I've used Centennial in almost every brew I've done, mostly because there is an abundance of it at my local Homebrewer's store. For my next batch, I plan on staying away from Centennial, and anything close like Columbus. Don't get me wrong, I like the taste they give, it just seems to overpower everything else in the beer. I'm pretty sure that's what happened with the not-really-Vanilla Porter.